Fianna Fáil suspends Callely pending inquiry

 

SENATOR IVOR Callely has been suspended “without prejudice” from membership of Fianna Fáil, pending an internal investigation into allegations of “conduct unbecoming” a member of the organisation.

Last night’s suspension took place at the instigation of Taoiseach Brian Cowen. The Senator resigned the party whip in Leinster House in June and was suspended from the Seanad last month after an investigation found he had misrepresented his place of residence when claiming travel-related expenses.

A statement from the Fianna Fáil press office last night said the party had suspended the Senator “without prejudice, and pending the completion of an internal investigation”.

“The party today reviewed certain matters in the public domain concerning Mr Callely and agreed that this information establishes a possible prima facie case of conduct unbecoming a member of the Fianna Fáil organisation.

“Accordingly, the party will establish an internal investigation into this matter which will report to the next meeting of the Fianna Fáil ard chomhairle [national executive], scheduled for September.

“We have today written to Senator Callely and the Oscar Traynor Cumann [branch], Dublin North Central, to inform them of this matter,” the statement concluded.

Sources said the Taoiseach contacted Fianna Fáil general secretary Seán Dorgan on Monday and asked him to seek a response from Mr Callely to the latest allegations about his expenses in a Sunday newspaper.

However, Mr Callely did not return phone calls and yesterday he was suspended, pending an investigation by five members of the party’s national executive.

The Senator was not at home at his holiday house at Kilcrohane in west Cork yesterday when The Irish Timescalled to the house seeking a response from him in relation to the current controversy.

Mr Callely’s mobile phone expenses claims will be subject to further examination by a Seanad committee following letters of complaint submitted yesterday afternoon by Green Party TD Paul Gogarty.

He wrote to clerk of the Seanad Deirdre Lane and the chairman of the Seanad Committee on Members’ Interests and Seanad Cathaoirleach Pat Moylan requesting “a formal investigation” into allegations in the Irish Mail on Sundaythat Mr Callely claimed almost €3,000 for mobile phones and related services with receipts from a company that had ceased trading.

“I believe that the questions raised by this article and in subsequent media deliberations require urgent investigation by the committee and indeed Seanad Éireann, particularly in light of the decision to suspend said member on 14th July last,” Mr Gogarty wrote.

“I make no allegations regarding the Senator’s behaviour in relation to the above article as there may well be a rational explanation in relation to same. However, there are clearly questions that need to be answered through a public investigation at the earliest opportunity,” he added.

Mr Gogarty also inquired whether a Senator could be subject to “a further suspension being made should he or she fail to address questions still hanging”.